4 Local Spots to Explore with Your Dog

Dog catching stick at Sanibel Beach

Preparing for a vacation requires a series of steps; making sure you’ve packed everything, double checking flight and hotel reservations and finding something to entertain the kids during travel time. Yet, often the hardest part of leaving town is figuring out arrangements for the family pet. It’s difficult enough to say goodbye to our furry friends, but to find someone to look after them on top of that could be a challenge. Luckily, on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel you can kiss your canine struggles goodbye.


Here you’ll find pet-friendly hotels, resorts and rental homes abound as well as plenty of beach bars and restaurants where dogs aren’t only allowed – they receive VIP treatment. Aside from accommodations, there are tons of spots you can explore with your pooch. Here’s your guide to the best beaches, parks and trails where man’s best friend is more than welcomed.  

Dog Beach

Dog Beach is the only shoreline in the area – and one of only a handful in the state – where dogs can roam without a leash. Located just outside Lovers Key State Park, this secluded beach allows pups of all sizes to frolic in the sand and shallow waters of the Gulf. Be sure to check the tide report before you head here though to avoid going during a high tide.

Pair of dogs exploring Lovers Key Dog Park

Black Island Trail

A short walk from Dog Beach, Lovers Key State Park comprises of four preserved and thriving barrier islands. Unfortunately, pets aren’t allowed on the beach but you’re welcome to walk them along the park’s trails. Black Island Trail, a five-mile favorite among local nature lovers, leads through the mangrove and sea oat forests that cover the island.

Dog posing along beach at Lovers Key Dog Park

Bowman’s Beach

One of Sanibel Island’s most beautiful and secluded areas, Bowman’s Beach is famous for its unparalleled shelling and breathtaking sunset views. Leashed dogs are free to romp around in the sand and surf, and their owners will enjoy the beach’s public picnic tables, grills and indoor restrooms.

Dog enjoying Bowman's Beach

J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Discover one of the largest undeveloped mangrove forests in the world with your dog at your side on the Wildlife Drive at J.N. Darling National Wildlife Refuge. This paved driving or walking trail runs nearly the length of the refuge and is lined with lookout towers, and boardwalks take you through the trees and onto the water. This area is famous for its indigenous and migratory bird population so you may want to bring a pair of binoculars.


Now that you know the most paw appropriate places around, read on to find out more about pet-friendly hotels and start planning your trip to The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel today.

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